John Chase, one of the few urbanists who actually understood Los Angeles, has died. No more wonderful books. But I will miss even more those moments when you would first see him in public, just as you caught a flash of purple or orange or red, and know that Chase was going to surprise you with his intricate facial hair or his unapologetically flamboyant suit because he knew that people needed to feed their eyes as much as their tummies.
I think the best remembrance is here, in LA Curbed:
We heard John speak many more times after that, and were always impressed by John’s passion for the prosaic. He was able to find beauty in the everyday. And he truly, unapologetically loved Los Angeles. His passion was infectious. He helped us appreciate LA’s vernacular–its stucco, its dingbats, its bungalows. To say that John loved camp is misleading. It implies a winking nod towards the vulgar and a certain distant irony. John’s love for the “vulgar” was far more sincere.
Perhaps the best thing to remember him by is my favorite of his books, Everyday Urbanism, written with the wonderful Margaret Crawford.
If there is a heaven, I strongly suspect Mr. Chase is in it, pestering God about sidewalk finishes, and winning the debate.